Tipra Motha Party emerges as the credible voice of tribal communities
The influential tribal-based Tipra Motha Party (TMP), which has been demanding elevation of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) into a full-fledged state andfor the first time contested 42 seats on its own in the recently-held Assembly elections, has emerged as the second largest party securing 13 seats, all tribal reserved.
Agartala: The influential tribal-based Tipra Motha Party (TMP), which has been demanding elevation of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) into a full-fledged state andfor the first time contested 42 seats on its own in the recently-held Assembly elections, has emerged as the second largest party securing 13 seats, all tribal reserved.
Headed by former royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, the TMP, which came to the forefront before the TTAADC polls in April 2021, pushed the CPI-M and the Congress into third and fourth positions, respectively, in the elections.
The CPI-M, which governed Tripura for 35 years in two phases (1978 to 1988 and 1993 to 2018), won 11 seats in the February 16 elections, while the Congress, which also governed the state for many years, bagged three.
The two national parties failed to secure a single seat out of the 20 tribal reserved seats this time even as the tribal areas were the Left parties’ strongholds since Tripura became the full-fledged state in 1972.
The CPI-M had secured only two tribal reserved seats in the 2018 Assembly polls and the Congress drew blank in the last two polls..
In the February 16 polls, the CPI-M led Left parties secured 26.80 per cent votes, TMP got over 20 per cent votes and the Congress, which contested the elections in seat sharing arrangements with the Left parties, managed 8.56 per cent votes.
The BJP secured 32 seats (38.97 per cent votes), four seats less than 2018 elections and its ally bagged one seat (1.26 per cent votes), down by seven seats from the previous polls.
Like Trinamool Congress, the TMP spoiled the electoral prospect of more than 15 CPI-M and Congress candidates and some of the BJP nominees, including Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Jishnu Dev Varma, who lost his Charilam seat to TMP candidate Subodh Deb Barma by a margin of 858 votes.
In the past over five-and-a-half decades, over a dozen tribal based parties in Tripura tried to play a crucial role in the state’s politics but due to their issue based politics sans any ideology they became nonexistent after their issues were resolved or when they raised irrelevant demands.
In June 1967, the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity (TUJS) was formed as the first major tribal based political party raising some tribal centric demands including creation of the tribal autonomous body.
The party first got four seats in 1978 elections and in 1988 it was an ally of the Congress with both parties in alliance governed the state for five years (1988 to 1993) before the CPI-M led Left Front government returned to power after five years.
TMP’s rapid success caused the change of the political spectrum of Tripura.
The party, since 2021, has been demanding elevation of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas by granting a ‘Greater Tipraland State’ or a separate state under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
The ruling BJP, CPI-M led Left parties, Congress and the Trinamool Congress have been strongly opposing the demand of the TMP. The party in support of its demands organised agitations both in the state and in the national capital.
All the parties in Tripura — BJP, CPI-M, Congress and Trinamool Congress — have also tried to forge a pre-poll alliance with TMP for the February 16 Assembly polls to get a majority of the 20 vital tribal reserve seats, but it refused the proposals of these parties.
The demand for a Greater Tipraland was raised by the TMP after the BJP ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) got massive support to its separate state demand from the indigenous tribals ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections.
Since April 2021, TMP has been ruling the politically-important 30-member TTAADC, which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which around 84 per cent are tribals, making the autonomous council a mini-Assembly.
The TTAADC was formed in 1985 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of the tribals, who constitute one third of the state’s four million population.
Political commentator Sanjib Deb said that tribal based political parties in Tripura were formed on the basis of certain issues and certain demands.
“These tribal parties have no ideology. According to our experience over the years they become nonexistent after their issues were resolved or when they raised such demands which are practically not possible to implement,” Deb told IANS.
He said that with the emergence of TMP a third political spectrum emerged in the state politics with the new tribal based party overwhelmingly dominating the tribal vote bank, thrashing the other political parties, specially the Left parties, who have had strongholds among the tribals since 1952.
“Earlier, the politics of Tripura was dominated by the Left and non-Left parties. Now the new entrant TIPRA is taking the vote share, mostly tribal votes, of the three national parties — BJP, CPI-M and the Congress,” Deb pointed out.
He said that most times the tribal based parties have to ally with the national parties despite their disputes on various issues.